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Ministry denies talk of reopening Thai access to Preah Vihear temple

Visitors ascend the steps to Preah Vihear temple in 2013.
Visitors ascend the steps to Preah Vihear temple in 2013. Heng Chivoan

Ministry denies talk of reopening Thai access to Preah Vihear temple

A Defense Ministry spokesman yesterday denied Thai media reports that Cambodian Minister of Defence Tea Banh had discussed the potential reopening of access to Preah Vihear temple from the Thai side of the border during recent talks.

Asked to respond to an article in the Bangkok Post that said Banh had acknowledged preparations were under way to reopen passage from Thailand’s Sisaket province – which was closed in 2009 amid military skirmishes around the contested 11th-century temple – Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat maintained the report was inaccurate.

“I would like to confirm that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Tea Banh did not talk at all about the Preah Vihear temple issue during the meeting in Thailand, even during the press conference. The report by the media was not true,” Socheat said.

“Both Cambodia and Thailand discussed the upgrading of international border-crossing checkpoints in some other areas, but not Preah Vihear.”

Banh and counterpart Prawit Wongsuwon met last week in Bangkok for the 11th General Border Committee meeting.

The talks focused on military cooperation and maintaining peace along the border, fighting terrorism and piracy and natural disaster preparations, according to a Facebook post by Banh.

Relations between the countries have improved steadily in recent months, as it approaches five years since end of deadly border clashes over the ownership of Preah Vihear temple.